10 tips to ensure you don't get caught out on a used car purchase

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The last 12-months have seen a massive 84,000 complaints to the Citizens Advice Bureau regarding second hand car sales, making it the consumer service's most complained about problem.
> From this, a massive 83% of complaints relate to vehicle faults, and with an average purchase price in excess of £5000, this equates to the British public spending £363 million of faulty used cars annually.

Mobile mechanic networks, such as ClickMechanic, regularly help people make sure the car they are buying is in good mechanical condition and they do that with pre-purchase inspections.

However, anyone on the hunt for a used car bargain can follow these simple steps - provided by Andrew Jervis from ClickMechanic - to protect themselves.

1. Check the V5 registration document

The V5 is the registration document that shows who the registered keeper of the vehicle is. When buying, make sure the person selling you the car matches up to the document otherwise you may be dealing with stolen goods.

2. Check the MOT Certificate

Most used cars over 3 years old must have an annual MOT test to prove the car is roadworthy. Be sure to check the MOT certificate and make sure it's up-to-date.

3. Check service history

It's always advisable to buy a car with a full service history. Check to see if the service book has been stamped and all invoices from previous servicing work are present.

4. Check price value guide

Using something like a Parkers or Glass's guide will give you an indication of the correct price you should be paying for the car.

5. Check for recalls

Sometimes the manufacturer may recall a certain model of car for various reasons. Be sure to make contact with the manufacturer or visit the VOSA website to ensure the car hasn't been recalled for any safety reasons.

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6. Check if the car is a write off

If a car is written off the insurer will tell VOSA who will then not submit a replacement registration document. You can check to see if a car is a write off by contacting VOSA directly or by checking at Direct Gov.

7. Check finance history

Be sure to check that the vehicle has no outstanding finance that needs to be paid off. Experian provide a service that will allow you to find this out quickly.

8. Test drive and walk around check

Take the car for a drive to see how it runs and walk around the vehicle to check for any visible marks, damage or leaks.

9. Check the basic levels

Checking the basic levels of oil and water in the vehicle will give an indication that it has been well maintained (or not).

10. Get a professional mechanic check

It's often very difficult to know for sure whether the vehicle is in good working condition without having a professional inspect it. ClickMechanic offer a mobile pre purchase inspection with 126 checks to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and good to go.